Stay safe during 101 Critical Days of Summer

20 May 2014 | Cpl. Brendan Roethel

With summer fast approaching it will soon be time to uncover boats, dust off motorcycles, put on swim shorts and head outside. 

Although the summer months offer more time for outdoor enjoyment, it is often the period when there are more mishaps and accidents. This period of time is referred to as the 101 Critical Days of Summer, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, or May 23 through Sept. 1 this year.

The 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign is intended to remind Marines of the importance of safety both on and off duty. Family barbecues, swimming, fishing, sports, hiking, boating, and camping are just some of the activities Marines participate in during the summer. Each activity has risks, and knowing how to mitigate those risks can help keep Marines safe.

“While we enjoy the summer weather, we often fail to recognize the risks associated with our activities,” said Gunnery Sgt. Moses Lozano, the ground safety manager aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “Many of us tend to engage in risky activities that take us to the ‘edge.’ What might begin as a day of fun in the sun might end up as trip to the emergency room, or worse. Summertime should be spent having fun with friends and family, but let’s do it safely.”

During the summer months, people tend to travel or partake in activities that are inherently risky. 

More than 400 fatal vehicle crashes are estimated to take place on Memorial Day weekend alone, according to the National Safety Council. By packing emergency items and preparing for long road trips with vehicle inspections, Marines can help mitigate travel risks.

One of the most dangerous hazards, impaired driving, is common during summer months marked with holidays, vacations and cook-outs, Lozano said. In 2010, over 30 percent of vehicle fatalities were attributed to drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.

According to the NSC, more than 3,900 people died in water and watercraft-related incidents in 2012, and the trend has continued to rise. 

When boating, be sure to know the limits of the boat so it doesn’t overload, be aware of other boats, swimmers and objects in the water, speeding, and make sure all passengers wear approved flotation devices. It’s also important to check the weather conditions and inspect the boat before going out on the water. To reduce the risk of mishaps while swimming, ensure a life guard is on duty at pools or beaches. 

Another safety concern during the summer is heat injuries. By properly using sunscreen and avoiding outside activities during the hottest part of the day, Marines can avoid sunburns. By wearing light or loose clothing and staying hydrated, Marines can avoid dehydration and heat injuries. It is also important to recognize the signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fatigue, heavy sweating, confusion, extreme thirst, dizziness, cramps and nausea are all symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, and must be taken seriously.

When barbecuing, wear fitted clothing to avoid contact with fuel or fire and stand up-wind when lighting the fire to avoid getting burned. Also remember to remove all flammable liquids from the grilling area before lighting up the grill and never leave the fire unattended. According to the NSC, grills should not be used within eight feet of a home to avoid fires. 

“The best thing Marines can do to mitigate risks is take a good look at every activity they are doing,” Lozano said. “If they break down their activities step-by-step and identify potential hazards, they can then reduce those hazards.”